The Bathroom Saga: How to Repair a Bathroom

This story was published in Storytime Tapestry and

written Oct 21, 2005

In August I was evicted from my home and forced to look for a new one in the space of three weeks. I had difficulty finding a new place because I am presently collecting unemployment insurance As I previously mentioned, Montreal landlords are worried about having their rent paid promptly on the first. They have staggering mortgages and little money to carry the tenant – so I was not a good prospective for a new apartment in these harsh financial times.

Due to my own ingenuity I succeeded in getting a new place by offering two months rent in advance. I dangled the carrot in front of the landlord and he jumped at the offer. What I did not tell you in the last story was that I was told no repairs would be done before May 2006. The landlord explained that he had already exhausted his budget for the year.

I took some time to think about it and explained that even if I signed a lease with such a clause he was still responsible for emergency repair as per the housing code. He agreed.

We moved in and were greeted by a few unwelcome crawling visitors. I called the landlord informing him that the place had cockroaches. “I have used the can of raid the last tenants left behind, and if I see more, you will have to send the exterminators,” I told him. He agreed.

We also had another problem with the house. The bathroom had a moldy smell and dumb me; I was thinking it was other people in the building spraying for cockroaches. Then there was the question of the bathroom floor, every time you walked on it, it literally sank. I was trying to ignore it and be the “good tenant” then my daughter-in-law stuck her toe right through the floor. I called the landlord again telling him this was an emergency that had to be fixed immediately. He agreed.

He told me to talk to the neighbour next door who apparently is his handyman, to come in and look at it. But Leopold said he wasn’t doing anything until the landlord called him first. Again I called the landlord to make the call himself. We waited.

A week went by and the landlord wanted to come down to see the finished work, “what work?” I said, “it has not even been started.” Leopold had come by to see the bathroom floor and said he and would be back – we are still waiting.

Leopold the handyman is a 69-year-old-man, who works as a delivery man for a takeout restaurant and does odd jobs for the landlord. Apparently you can only catch him one day a week which usually is a Tuesday. He promised to come by that following Tuesday, but since he just lives next door we could see him outside fiddling with his car all day instead of coming to our place as promised. My daughter-in-law, went out to ask what was the score? He apologized and said that he had to fix the car or he wouldn’t be able to work. He would come the following day to fix the bathroom.

He did come on the Wednesday to rip up the entire bathroom floor. The wood underneath the tile was completely rotten causing the musty smell. While he was doing that, three of my cats jumped down into the hole. Leopold retrieved one of them, but said that the other two would eventually come up. When they did they would come through his house because the trap door was there. He would bring them back as soon as they did.

He put plywood down on the floor in the meantime and said he would come back the following week. The cats found their way back up into my place on their own. No one really knows how they did it. But that is beside the point. I would have to wait another week to have my bathroom completed.

Though the plywood was down on the floor, he still had to put tile down, the sides of the walls were ripped up and the cellar remains exposed. Leopold was supposed to come back on the Monday this time. As you would expect, we didn’t see him the entire day. He did come back on the Tuesday to lay the tiles. He took the entire day doing it and said he would patch up the holes in the walls the next week.

It has been a month, the walls are still full of holes, the musty smell is coming up from the cellar and I am no further ahead. Leopold was supposed to come on Tuesday and Monday night his daughter rang our doorbell to say Leopold had a heart attack and was in the hospital. It is Thursday night as I write this piece; we have not heard from them, they are never home.

How do I demand having my bathroom finished without appearing callous? What is proper etiquette in this case? How long do I wait before I contact the landlord?

Addendum: The bathroom was eventually finished.

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